Five Questions You Should Ask About Medical School Debt


Most medical students expect to incur debt by the end of their education. Depending on the amount of money owed, the debt can be a source of stress and may influence your career choices.

While you can’t control costs such as tuition fees, you can better manage your debt by learning more about budgeting, borrowing and strategies for lowering debt.

The answers to the questions below will tell you five things you might not know about medical school debt.

  1. How much debt do medical students graduate with?

    According to the 2012 National Physician Survey, 18% of Canadian medical students reported that they expected to have no education-related debt upon graduation.1 About 30% expected debt of over $100,000, and 13% expected debt of more than $160,000.

  2. How much can I borrow for medical school?

    "An MD advisor can help you plan the best way to manage your expenses and minimize debt."

    Most students start with student loans from the federal and/or their provincial/territorial governments. The maximum amount you can borrow depends on your circumstances. Medical students who require more financial assistance can also get a line of credit from a financial institution, which typically ranges from $250,000 to $275,000.

    As an MD client, you can borrow up to $275,000 through the Medical Student and Resident Line of Credit, offered through National Bank.2 The funds are available in flexible annual increments, and an MD advisor can help you plan the best way to manage your expenses and minimize debt.

  3. What kind of information do financial institutions have about me and my debt?

    Whenever you apply for a loan, you give the financial institution permission to access your credit report, which is a personal credit history that tracks your financial activities and personal financial habits.

    The credit report includes details such as when you opened your bank accounts, whether you make your payments on time, and whether you have missed payments. If your credit history is poor, you may have difficulty getting a loan or mortgage, or renting an apartment or house. It may also result in you having to pay higher interest rates.

    You can obtain your report once every six months from Equifax Canada or TransUnion, either online or by mail.

  4. How can I lower my debt during medical school?

    Here are some practices that will help you manage your expenses and minimize debt during medical school:

    • Start by developing an annual budget, estimating your costs and potential income.

    • Try to stick to your budget as closely as possible.

    • Borrow only the amount you need, which will help avoid overspending.

    • Try to minimize the interest that will accumulate on your line of credit by properly timing your withdrawals.

    Learn more about ways to lower your medical school debt.

  5. Can I have any of my student loans forgiven?

    Canada: Since April 2013, the Government of Canada has offered forgiveness of Canada Student Loans to eligible family doctors, residents in family medicine, nurse practitioners and nurses who work in rural or remote communities. If you’re a family doctor or resident in family medicine, the federal government will forgive up to $8,000 per year for a maximum of five years, or $40,000, if you’re eligible.

    Find out more about the eligibility requirements, application process and locations of communities designated for Canada Student Loan Forgiveness for Family Doctors and Nurses.

    British Columbia: If you’re a medical resident or physician with a B.C. student loan, you can have your loan forgiven—up to a maximum of 20% per year for up to five years—if you work in certain facilities in underserved B.C. communities. See B.C. Loan Forgiveness Program for details.

For more information about debt management or other financial planning topics, contact an MD Advisor. MD offers objective advice at every stage of your career—from medical school through retirement. Find an MD Advisor near you.



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